The Groaning Board, the Flowing Bowl
A Surfeit of Quotes on Food and Drinkby Various Authors
George Bernard Shaw famously declared there is “no sincerer love than the love of food,” and many of our favorite authors, restaurateurs, sages, and wits agree. We’ve assembled gourmets, hedonists, notorious gourmands (and winos) to share their gustatory pleasures.
Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.
When I was a young subaltern in the South African War, the water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable we had to put a bit of whiskey in it. By diligent effort I learned to like it.
Once in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days.
—W. C. Fields, My Little Chickadee
Some ten thousand years ago our ancestors gave up wandering around eating whatever came to hand and settled down to raise crops. Planting and harvesting was much more work than picking whatever they passed by, but incentives came with it. If you could stay in one place and cultivate fairly stable crops of peaches, rice, apples, berries, grapes, honey, potatoes, barley, wheat, milk, cactus, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, or practically any other organic substance, even if you didn't understand the science involved, it would presently ferment into a drink that made you forget your troubles and feel better about life. William Faulkner, who knew a thing or two about it, observed that civilization begins with fermentation.
—Barbara Holland, The Joy of Drinking
High and fine literature is wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water.
—Mark Twain, letter to William Dean Howells
I always wondered why the makers leave housekeeping and cooking out of their tales. Isn’t it what all the great wars and battles are fought for—so that at day’s end a family may eat together in a peaceful house?
—Ursula K. Le Guin, Voices
We ate and said little, for all of us were hungry. The food, as I see now but did not then, looked beautiful laid out before us on the table. And never then did I know that it was laid out in such profusion in honor of me. It was offered to me out of the loneliness of Grandma’s life, out of her disappointments, her craving for small comforts and pleasures beyond her reach, to which Grandpa was indifferent.
—Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett
The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.